Photo: Eric Black

Building traditions are an important part of family bonding. Many extended families have long traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, but it’s important for parents to find new traditions that their children will take as their own.  This creates a bond within the family based on a unique shared experience.

When my oldest daughter first started trick or treating on Halloween, I realized she was coming home with far more candy than she could, or should, eat. Sure, I could have pulled some out when she wasn’t looking, but where’s the fun in that? 

Ok, it’s totally fun sneaking some out and maybe I did that along the way, but I also decided that she needed to split her candy with her mom and me. After all, we were the ones hauling her around to all of the houses, right? Didn’t we deserve a piece of the pie…I mean, Snickers? 

So that’s what we did. We dumped out all of her candy on the table between us and she picked one she wanted and then I picked one I wanted all the way through the pile. I would make arbitrary calls, too. Like, “you can have the pretzels. That’s a freebie.” or “I’m taking all the hard candies, because they’re choking hazards.”

During The Split, we were talking, too. Which is your favorite? Why do you like that flavor? Which house had the best decorations? Which costume did you like the most? 

Now there are three more kids in the family, but each one has learned that when they get home, they get one treat, get out of their costumes and into their pjs, then come back downstairs to do The Splits.  None of them complain. They actually want to do The Splits.

It may be a little bit late and extend bedtime on an already exhausting night, but we had some time together to decompress and bond. It’s one of my favorite parts of Halloween and this year, my daughter, who is now ten years old, said it was her favorite part. All that candy and time walking around through the neighborhood at night with her friends and her favorite part is splitting up the loot with her dad.  That’s a moment that makes me feel like maybe I ‘m not too horrible at this parenting thing.  

Part of the appeal of this small piece of the much bigger sugar packed holiday for all of us is that it’s our tradition. It’s a special time that our family shares together after spending most of the holiday around other people. Every year, the kids know to expect parties and costumes and running around the neighborhood to get candy and then coming home and doing The Splits.